Intriguing nuances of dark chocolate and dried Marasca cherries layer the ripe plum and
blackberry notes of our 2014 Napa Valley Merlot. As you swirl the wine, you’ll also discover
hints of black mission fig and licorice. On the palate, the textured flavors are plush and graceful,
yet with ample structure. A year of aging in oak barrels sourced from three different counties
added hints of sweet oak spices and espresso.
Dry, early and shaking is how 2014 will be remembered in Napa Valley, yet it had a silver
lining with small, concentrated grapes and high quality. February’s rains brought the total
rainfall up to low, but adequate, helping to relieve three years of drought conditions. Warm
temperatures promoted early budbreak in spring and accelerated grape maturation. Just as
harvest began, a dramatic 6.0 earthquake shook Napa Valley awake on August 24. We
finished the very compact, plentiful harvest by mid-October and celebrated the vintage’s
beautifully ripened grapes.
We sourced the majority of grapes for this wine from Calistoga, Rutherford and the Los
Carneros American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) of Napa Valley. The diversity of soils and
mesoclimates in these regions, as well as of clones and cultivation techniques, contribute to this
wine’s layers of flavors. Grapes from our estate vineyards in warmer Calistoga contribute juicy,
dark-fruit and chocolate expression, while our vineyards in the cooler Los Carneros give bright
berry notes. Rutherford vineyards, near our winery in the center of the valley, added plum
while enhancing the wine’s silky tannin structure.
After the grapes were crushed, we fermented the must in stainless-steel tanks until dry. Gentle
pump-overs during fermentation extracted flavor, deep color and tannins from the skins. We
then pressed and transferred all the wines to small oak barrels coopered with Hungarian,
American and French oak to develop and integrate flavors. Following barrel aging, we blended
the Merlot with a small amount of complementary varieties to enhance its structure.